Century Notes: Reflections of Maine Centenarians

Maine is about to celebrate the 200th anniversary of its statehood, and Maine Public has teamed up with Down East magazine to tell the stories of people who have been alive for at least half of that time. We traveled from York to Lewiston-Auburn, Presque Isle and Fort Kent to chronicle the experiences of Mainers who grew up on farms, went to war in Europe, returned to raise families and now reflect back on a hundred years of life.

Rebecca Conley / Maine Public

Society views those who have reached the age of 100 with awe. But becoming a centenarian is more than just a landmark. We'll discuss what it means to live to an advanced age, both the positives and negatives, as well as what research tells us about aging.

Michael D. Wilson / For Down East Magazine

At the age of 85, Dan Donnell of York decided to try something new. His wife had recently died and he needed to get out of the house, so he started volunteering.

Sixteen years later, he has learned that not only does he like helping others, he also gets by with a little help from his friends.

This interview is part of our series of conversations with Maine centenarians.

Michael D. Wilson / For Down East Magazine

Alfreda Dumond of Fort Kent is 102 years old. She remembers the Acadian culture and rural lifestyle that defined her childhood in Aroostook County. But as the world around her has changed, Dumond chooses to look ahead instead of focusing on the past.

This interview is part of our series of conversations with Maine centenarians.

Michael D. Wilson / For Down East Magazine

For a woman born more than a century ago, Ruth Endicott lived an unconventional life: she got her pilot’s license in her 20s, became a medical doctor in her 30s, married at age 40, had two kids and didn’t retire until she was nearly 90 years old.

Endicott passed away earlier this month at the age of 103, but just weeks before spoke with Maine Public reporter Patty Wight as part of our series of conversations with Maine centenarians.


Michael D. Wilson / For Down East magazine

On the eve of Maine’s bicentennial, Maine Public has teamed up with Down East magazine to share the life stories of centenarians — people who have celebrated a hundred birthdays.

In Fort Kent, one woman’s life was shaped by an early experience deep in Maine’s North Woods.

This interview is part of our series of conversations with Maine centenarians.

Michael D. Wilson / For Down East Magazine

We’re often reminded to enjoy the small things in life: the beauty of our natural surroundings, the taste of good food or the company of those we love. Maurice Bouchard, 102, of Lewiston, spends his days enjoying moments like these after a life of hard work.

This interview is part of our series of conversations with Maine centenarians.

Rebecca Conley / Maine Public

And now for a story about three Dots.  Not an ellipsis or a new discovery in the solar system or a location on a map.  No, this is a story about three women named Dorothy, all born in 1919,  who grew up together in the same hometown, celebrated their 100th birthdays this year and who still remain friends.

This interview is part of our series of conversations with Maine centenarians.

Michael D. Wilson / For Down East Magazine

Eva Deschaine had to grow up fast.

From her black rocking chair inside a Fort Kent nursing home, she describes a childhood with far fewer amenities than today. Deschaine and her three brothers grew up in nearby Black Lake, a small town with a one-room schoolhouse. Like many families in the region, they spoke French.

This interview is part of our series of conversations with Maine centenarians.